The Choice of Student Essay Topics

I try to build as much choice as I can into our Persuasive Science Essay Project that is now underway to end the year. They get to pick their own topics and they get to choose the type of multimedia project they want to create as a companion piece to the essay. What I can’t quite change is the five-paragraph essay format, because that is its own line item on our report card/standards-based progress report. I’m not quite sure why that is (I argued against the standard being written that way and instead, I wanted more flexibility for longer pieces of writing).

Still, I am teaching in that framework, providing a clear path of organization for them while trying to leave as much wiggle room for them as possible to develop an argumentative, research-based essay that gives them voice. Today, I will begin talking about the multimedia component and as they finish up their essays in the next day or two, they will be launching into that component of the project to end the school year (yikes! not much time left).

I love the range of topics that my students have chosen for their essays, and I am appreciating how the research part of the project is really providing them with a level of depth and understanding. There are some that continue to struggle with an opening paragraph, and formulating enough ideas for a long essay. But others are writing non-stop during class time, sharing their pieces with classmates and asking for advice and revision ideas. This is the time of year when you start to see all of those lessons from the year start to unfold in a more natural way, I think. They understand that this is the last piece of writing they are doing this year and most want it to be one of the best.

Peace (in the writing),

PS — this is the site of last year’s science-based essays.


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